Cholua Brothers strike more than gold with legendary miners’ brew

Old time coffee store to open in Black Hawk

By Patty Unruh

No matter what we call it – java, bean juice, or morning mud – there are plenty of us who need a caffeine fix to get our eyes open in the morning.

Maybe it’s time for a breath of fresh mountain air in our favorite brew, whether it’s in the morning or at any opportune time. Get ready, mountain folks – the Cholua Bros. Mining Co., miners of high-altitude roasted Colorado coffees, will be hosting a grand opening of their first store in the historic barn at 470 Gregory Street (near the Red Dolly Casino) in Black Hawk on Saturday, October 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, October 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dane and Jake Cholua invite patrons to sample their coffee products, take a look at nearby historic homes of Black Hawk, and participate in some great giveaways.

Cholua Bros. Mining Co. has been in business for just three months, but interest has been encouraging. The brothers had a booth at the Gilpin County Fair, where chief miner Dane Cholua says their samples were well received. They also gave out a number of coupons for $5.00 off on any in-store Cholua Bros. product purchase. The brothers have done two other shows besides the Gilpin County Fair: a show at Victor, Colorado, and an event for Colorado Greyhound Adoption, a charity in Highlands Ranch.

The Choluas initially began their coffee sales on the Internet. Then, Dane and Jake approached The Colorado Store, which offers Colorado-made products. The store took a chance on them, ordering six one-pound packages for each of their three stores. In less than two weeks, the Castle Rock store placed an order for another 45 pounds and just recently ordered 30 more pounds.

The fledgling coffee business had its beginnings in an old family recipe. It all began nearly 100 years ago, when the Cholua family began making a syrup that their family legend says flavored the miner’s coffee during the days of the Colorado gold rush. The recipe got handed down through the generations. Dane says that with the addition of rum, it eventually became the recipe for the family’s sought-after coffee liqueur. “We gave it to friends every Christmas. That started the whole thing,” he relates.

The brothers are fifth-generation Polish descendants whose ancestors came to the Black Hawk area hoping to find gold, but never struck it rich. However, Dane says, he and his brother feel that they have “struck more than gold” by offering their family’s coffee liqueur and other high-altitude roasted coffees to the public. Their coffees are available in medium and French roasts, along with their signature coffee, which is flavored with vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel. The coffees come packaged in vintage gold, copper, and black foil bags and reflect Black Hawk’s mining history. The products are also sold on-line at and at The Colorado Store in Park Meadows, Silverthorne, and Castle Rock.

Dane explains what he believes makes Cholua Bros. coffees distinctive. “The high-altitude (10,000 feet) roasting process is better, because it roasts a lot faster than at low altitude and at a much cooler temperature.” Dane says when coffee is roasted at a low altitude, it has to be roasted longer and results in a scorched, bitter taste. High-altitude roasting will prevent bean scorching, so the flavor is fresher and doesn’t taste burned, he stated. He also says they get their coffee beans from Central and South America.

Dane and Jake decided two years ago to market their coffee liqueur, but discovered that using rum as an ingredient necessitated jumping through several Federal and state government hoops.

Because of the work involved, they decided to market their roasted coffees first; they plan to debut the coffee liqueur and all-natural coffee syrup in the fall of 2014.

Dane says the City of Black Hawk was good to work with in locating their store. “The Barn,” he comments, is an historic building in the middle of a collection of homes from the late 1800’s.

The gingerbread-style houses were moved from all over Black Hawk and rehabilitated to make a small village, which will enhance the historical feel of the city.

The Choluas live locally, Jake in Gilpin County and Dane in Golden. They hope that Gilpin County patrons will come and enjoy their grand opening and discover the difference that high-altitude roasting makes.

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